Tom Griffiths is Senior Marketing Manager for Sensor Driven Lighting and Spectral Sensing at ams AG. He has spent the last 18 years as a strategic consultant, communicator and evangelist immersed in LEDs, LED lighting, and the associated markets, including his roles as the founder and publisher of well-recognized industry publications LIGHTimes, Solid State Lighting Design and CompoundSemi Online. Tom’s background prior to those successful endeavors included 15 years of staff-level marketing and sales management within the board-level embedded computer industry. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the University of California.
Closed-Loop Sensing: Human-Responsive Lighting Delivers ROI
While it is increasingly obvious to lighting industry professionals that human-responsive lighting could become the norm more quickly than originally anticipated, a burning question remains: Will customers pay for it? This question matters deeply in terms of the risk early-adopting luminaire manufacturers will bear for leading the market into tunable lighting solutions. The great news is that Silicon Valley is delivering on solutions just in time to solve the challenge, both in the short term and long term.
Adding automatic daylighting offers value increases from better precision and energy savings. But beyond that, in the short term the addition of closed-loop sensing also will enable direct cost reductions in the bill of materials of both tunable and non-tunable lighting systems. For tunable systems, a sensor-in-the-loop enables less precise components to deliver a high precision result. A common analogy comes from the automotive market, where upstream mass airflow sensors combine with downstream oxygen sensors to allow rapid adjustments to fuel injectors that optimize performance and efficiency and minimize harmful emissions at the same time. Moreover, it accomplishes that with lower precision fuel injectors, since they simply have to respond to “more” or “less” commands rather than specific flow rates. It’s lower cost components delivering higher precision. In the case of tunable lighting, the addition of a 3-4€ sensing system enables lower cost LED drivers, as well as wider (cheaper) LED bins, while increasing the precision of both CCT and daylight-responsive lights.
Longer term, lighting systems will follow the track of smartphones and begin a transition from a cost-centric to an application-centric value model. In that model, luminaire manufacturers have the initial, basic opportunity to capture the 10€ per square meter revenue opportunity that has traditionally flowed to the lighting controls. Farther out, manufacturers should expect to gain additional competitive advantages and value-add pricing/margin opportunities as the result of a rising value from core applications, including circadian-optimized and other health/well-being oriented lighting systems applications that improve workforce productivity and user satisfaction.
In a sense, all lighting has been human-centric since it moved from the fire-pit to the troffer. The coming move to human-responsive lighting ushers in a new era of value-models that include “right now” opportunities to optimize both the bill of materials cost model, as well as the overall user experience of lighting.